Right-wing media figures have compared President Obama’s response to the historic flooding in Louisiana to the federal response to Hurricane Katrina under President George W. Bush, while ignoring the governor of Louisiana’s concerns that a presidential visit in the midst of a massive disaster response could hinder authorities’ efforts to save lives.
Louisiana Hit By Historic Flooding, Obama To Visit Next Week
Louisiana Flood Is “The Worst Natural Disaster” Since Hurricane Sandy. On August 19, CNN reported on the devastating floods in Louisiana:
The catastrophic flood devastating Louisiana is now the worst natural disaster to strike the United States since Hurricane Sandy four years ago, the Red Cross said.
“Thousands of people in Louisiana have lost everything they own and need our help now,” said Brad Kieserman, the Red Cross' vice president of disaster services operations and logistics.
“This disaster is the worst to hit the United States since Superstorm Sandy, and we anticipate it will cost at least $30 million -- a number which may grow as we learn more about the scope and magnitude of the devastation.”
The calamity struck quickly and ferociously. In one part of Livingston Parish, more than 31 inches of rain fell in 15 hours. [CNN, 8/18/16]
The Advocate: After Massive Flooding In Louisiana, Governor Said That He “Would Just As Soon [Obama] Wait A Week Or Two” To Visit. The Advocate, Louisiana’s largest daily newspaper, reported that massive flooding in Louisiana “has sparked disaster declarations for 20 parishes” and resulted in 13 deaths and damage to 40,000 homes so far. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards told reporters “he’s not concerned that President Barack Obama has not yet visited Louisiana and that a visit from the president “would be a drain on resources as the state still works to respond to the flood.” Edwards added, “I would just as soon [Obama] wait a week or two.” Edwards also said he in “near daily communication with the White House” and that the administration had “shown that the flooding is a priority for the federal government”:
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards says he's not concerned that President Barack Obama has not yet visited Louisiana to see the flood crisis first-hand. “I'm not complaining in any way about our federal partnership,” Edwards said during a news conference on Thursday.
Edwards, a Democrat, said that those trips, plus near daily communication with the White House, has shown that the flooding is a priority for the federal government. He said a visit from Obama, which would require heightened security and road closures, would be a drain on resources as the state still works to respond to the flood. “Quite frankly, that's not something I want to go through right now,” Edwards said. “I would just as soon he wait a week or two.” [The Advocate, 8/18/16]
President Obama Will Visit Louisiana Next Week But Wanted “To Ensure That His Presence Does Not Interfere With Ongoing Recovery Efforts.” On August 19, Politico reported that White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest relayed to reporters that President Obama “is mindful of the impact that his travel has on first responders and wants to ensure that his presence does not interfere with ongoing recovery efforts.”:
President Barack Obama will visit Louisiana next week, the White House announced Friday.
Obama will travel to Baton Rouge on Tuesday, press secretary Josh Earnest said, noting that Obama’s team reached that date after coordinating with state officials.
“Additional details will be announced in the coming days. The President is mindful of the impact that his travel has on first responders and wants to ensure that his presence does not interfere with ongoing recovery efforts,” Earnest said. “He is also eager to get a first-hand look at the impact of the devastating floods, hear from more officials about the response, including how the federal government can assist and tell the people of Louisiana that the American people will be with them as they rebuild their community and come back stronger than ever.” [Politico, 8/19/16]
“Does Obama Care About Black People?” Right-Wing Media Condemn Obama’s Response
RedState: “So I Guess Now We Get To Ask The Question. Does Obama Care About Black People?” On August 19, RedState’s Brandon Moore claimed the president’s “hypocrisy” was “on full display” as he was “finishing up his 9th round of golf at Martha's Vineyard” instead of responding to the flooding in Louisiana. Moore then declared, “I guess now we get to ask the question. Does Obama care about black people?”:
Apparently, he can be finishing up his 9th round of golf at Martha's Vineyard, though. In his place, Johnson will be heading to the flood zone to oversee the government handling of the situation.
For all his faults, at least Bush made efforts to show up when the south was hit hard by Katrina. He even landed in Biloxi Mississippi two days after the flyover in Louisiana to meet with victims of the flooding.
Not so with Obama. You won't hear a peep out of the media that had put Bush through the ringer for not actually grabbing a bucket and bailing water out of the state. Bush was accused of all sorts of nasty things, including once little bit from Kanye West, saying Bush didn't care about black people.
So I guess now we get to the ask the question. Does Obama care about black people? [RedState, 8/19/16]
Fox’s Trace Gallagher: “No Plans” For Obama To End Vacation, “And No Claims That He Doesn’t Care About The People On The Ground.” On the August 18 edition of Fox News’ The Kelly File, Fox correspondent Trace Gallagher dismissed concerns about Obama’s presence disrupting recovery and rescue efforts as “media reasoning.” Gallagher noted that “so far, there are no plans” for Obama to end his vacation and that there are also “no claims that he doesn't care about the people on the ground”:
TRACE GALLAGHER: An image of the president golfing on Martha’s Vineyard put side-by-side with people being rescued from some of the 40,000 homes damaged in the flooding has struck a nerve, evoking memories of 2005 when a then-vacationing President Bush flew over the catastrophic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. At the time, the media tore into President Bush's decision not to land the plane and support the victims saying he lacked compassion. But now the media reasoning for no visit by Obama to Baton Rouge seems to be that presidential visits get in the way of emergency responders, and does more harm than good.
So far there are no plans for the president to end his vacation early, and no claims that he doesn't care about the people on the ground. [Fox News, The Kelly File, 8/18/16]
Fox’s Eric Bolling: “Quite Ironic” Obama Is On Vacation After He “Chastised The Bush Administration.” Fox host and Trump sycophant Eric Bolling labeled the president’s response to the Louisiana disaster “quite ironic” since then-Sen. Obama “chastised the bush administration for a slow response to Katrina”:
ERIC BOLLING (CO-HOST): And still no sign of President Obama. He won't be prying himself away from the golf course in Martha's Vineyard until Tuesday to tour the damage. Quite ironic, because remember back in 2008, then senator Obama chastised the Bush administration for a slow response to Hurricane Katrina.
Eight years later as president himself, he hasn't even taken to a microphone to address the worst natural disaster since Superstorm Sandy. [Kimberly Guilfoyle], there are a couple of things here. Donald Trump changed his schedule, got down there. Obama hasn't. He decided now that he saw Trump down there that he is going to show up on Tuesday. [Fox News, The Five, 8/19/16]
FoxNews.com “Bias Alert”: Bush Was “Torn To Shreds” Over Katrina Response, But Obama’s “Has Been Met With Resounding Silence.” A post on Fox News’ website decried alleged media bias in reporting on the Louisiana flooding. Fox charged that “lambasted [Bush] for taking too long to return from vacation and to visit the site on the ground,” but Obama’s “significantly more tepid” response has been ignored:
President George W. Bush was torn to shreds in 2005 by mainstream media commentators for his initial response to Hurricane Katrina – yet President Obama’s detached response to the recent Louisiana floods has been met with resounding silence from those same outlets.
“George Bush doesn’t care about black people” was the shocking charge by singer Kanye West about President Bush’s response to Katrina. West’s was a particularly blunt assessment, but echoed a growing narrative pushed by mainstream media outlets that Bush’s response was out of touch, inept and most of all, he didn’t care about people on the ground.
Much of the media coverage at the time not only criticized Bush for the difficulties the federal government faced in responding to the disaster, but also lambasted him for taking too long to return from vacation and to visit the site on the ground.
Such concerns have been almost entirely absent from media coverage of the Louisiana floods in recent days. At least 13 people have died, while at least 85,000 have registered for disaster aid.
While nowhere near as devastating as the hurricane, the floods have wrought significant destruction on the area. Meanwhile, Obama’s response has been significantly more tepid than Bush’s.
Obama has still not returned from his vacation at Martha’s Vineyard, and the White House said Thursday Obama would spend the day golfing. While a White House spokeswoman said the president also spoke with FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate to get an update after Fugate's visit to the area, there are currently no confirmed plans for Obama to end his vacation early.
So far, there have been no mainstream media outlets criticizing Obama’s apparent lack of response, nor have there been any celebrities claiming Obama doesn’t care about the people on the ground. [Fox News, 8/18/16]
Fox’s Sean Hannity: “Magnitude Is Literally Second To Katrina And Yet Obama Is Playing Golf.” On the August 19 edition of Premiere Radio Networks’ The Sean Hannity Show, host and Trump sycophant Hannity told Trump’s new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, that the “magnitude” of the Louisiana flooding was “literally second to Katrina and yet Obama is playing golf”:
SEAN HANNITY (HOST): It’s just horrible, the devastation is wide and deep and the magnitude is literally second to Katrina and yet the federal government has done nothing The President’s out golfing again with Larry David and having a good ol’ time at Martha’s Vineyard. And Hillary Clinton, the best she can do is pick up a phone and call the governor of Louisiana. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 8/19/16]